This weeks ZEST Woman, Sandra Oldfield, is the CEO of Tinhorn Creek Vineyards and recent award recipient of the Sun Life Financial Trailblazers & Trendsetters category of the Women’s Executive Network’s (WXN) 2016 Canada’s Most Powerful Women.
The award was celebrated at an evening Awards Gala in Toronto on November 24th, where Sandra became part of an exceptional community of now 939 remarkable female leaders.
“I’m honoured to be recognized as a trailblazer and have the opportunity, as a female CEO in the wine industry, to act as a role model for younger generations and my peers,” says Sandra Oldfield. “At Tinhorn Creek we strive to be at the forefront of the industry; pushing boundaries and setting trends to promote Canadian wine.”
As champions of ecofriendly BC businesses and incredible women spearheading positive change, BLUSH was keen to interview the CEO of the first winery in Canada to support carbon neutral measures. Under Sandra’s guidance, Tinhorn Creek will continue their long held commitment to land stewardship, conservation and environmentally sustainable practices.
How do you follow an idea path before giving up?
I tend to pursue ideas using a wide range of resources and go after something new with a lot of enthusiasm and drive. If it doesn’t work out, I often will set it aside for quite a long time. Inevitably though, I come back at it later when I have broadened my perspective or can make more connections and try a new tactic. For me it’s all about the long game. Real change often happens over months and years, not days and weeks.
How do you generate new ideas?
The best way to generate ideas is to lead a wildly diverse life. If you’re trying to be creative, inspiration often comes from making connections with things that are seemingly unrelated. I have many loves including classic cars, history, online courses (I’ve completed over 100 to date), art, travel and Twitter and I get new ideas from tidbits I pick up everywhere. It’s one reason why I love to hire people who can demonstrate a diverse background rather than those who have specialized training.
How do you define success and what is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Success is achieving balance in my life, not just between work and home but all in all I do. More specifically at work I use the mantra “How can I help Tinhorn Creek employees do their job better?” and that drives a great deal of my decision making. Long term success is only seen in the rear view mirror so if I look back on the previous couple of years and feel I could have done better it energizes me to raise my bar.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My inspiration is a woman named Sharon, my mentor. She was the first person to train me in the California wine industry. Sharon was a chemist at a time when women did not go into the sciences and I cannot imagine how difficult that was for her. 25 years into this friendship she is still my rock, still the person I look to when I need advice and the person I run to when I’ve had a miserable day (or month). I always ask if I am as good a mentor to others as she has been to me.
What advice do you have for other woken looking to take a big step in their lives?
For women looking to make a big changes I suggest doing your homework first, but not for too long. Nothing can fully prepare you for significant change so at some point it’s best to just jump right in. I know some who become paralyzed with initiating change because they want to prepare for all outcomes. I know I will never be 100% prepared but I also don’t have to be 100% right. The more you welcome change into your life the more comfortable change becomes.
WHO IS SANDRA OLDFIELD?
Sandra Oldfield immigrated to Canada from California in 1995, packing her entire life into a vintage 1966 Mustang. She had just received her Master’s Degree in Enology (winemaking) from UC Davis and was starting Tinhorn Creek Vineyards with her husband. After making the winery’s the first 20 vintages, taking it from 1,000 cases to 40,000 cases, she moved on to become its CEO. She has led Tinhorn Creek to become the first carbon neutral winery in Canada and has spearheaded a vigorous health and safety program for employees earning the recognition this year as Canada’s Safest Employer.
Sandra joined twitter (@sandraoldfield) in April 2010 and has been an addict ever since. After seeing a need to bring consumers and wine producers together, she began #BCWineChat, a weekly conversation about topics relevant to the BC wine industry, every Wednesday from 8-9pm.
BLUSHVancouver is honoured to share Sandra’s views on life and success with our readers. If you know a woman who has ZEST and who should be in the spotlight, let us know!